Monday, March 15, 2010

Open Government - Why transparency matters.

Whether local, state, or federal; government transparency enables good citizenship and government accountability.
We cannot hold our public officials accountable without knowing what they are doing; knowledge will always trump ignorance.

How much of the daily news are stories and opinions by people with little knowledge, much less expertise in the area they write about? How much are outright fabrication, misdirection, or PR releases?

We all have seen headlines like this: "Senator Joe announced today that 300 new jobs will be created thanks to passage of Bill 23"
Have you ever seen this headline? "Senator Joe announced today that Bill 23 will allow XYZ Corporation to take advantage of cheap local labor and not have to comply with environmental laws"

While government transparency will not generate the second headline, it will allow anyone to see what Bill 23 actually contains. Often officials are afraid that things "may be misconstrued", great opportunity for them to meet with their constituents and explain in plain English what their action does.

Without having to jump through the hoops of requesting public documents or FOIA requests, journalists can write the whole story and citizens can hold their elected officials accountable.

Government secrecy allows waste, abuse, and fraud to flourish.
Transparency is a critical component needed for civic engagement in a Democracy.

#opengov #publicequalsonline

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